Skip to main content

Full text of "The manufacture and properties of iron and steel"

See other formats


470                                     THE IRON INDUSTET.
eras. -In many parts of Europe works are built where water is scarce, but in America it is considered essential that a river be available, and this river is looked upon as small unless it is as large as the Rhine. Pittsburgh stands at the junction of two rivers, and both are bordered by high and steep hills, so that the iron and steel works extend in long,.narrow lines along both banks of both rivers. In about the year 1884, natural gas was discovered in the region around Pittsburgh, and during the next ten years this district enjoyed one of the best and most convenient fuels at very low rates. Many plants are using it to-day, but the cost is much higher than formerly and the supply uncertain, so that many plants in the city proper have been forced to install gas producers, but natural gas is still used at Homestead and Duquesne.
The advantages of this fuel are not confined to its first cost, as an open-heaxth furnace using it is radically different from the usual type. The gas needs no regeneration and is introduced at the point where the port opens into the furnace, so that both chambers are used for air. There is no leak from one to the other; there are no ports to wear out, and when the furnace is repaired the brickwork may be laid in the most rapid manner, without any attention to making joints tight. The gas contains no sulphur, so that it is easy to make steel low in this element. It is not known how long the gas will last. New wells are constantly being sunk and the supply replenished from a greater distance, but the time seems near when the amount will be so scanty that it will be used for household purposes only.
It is around Pittsburgh that the methods have been developed in blast furnaces and rolling mills which have become known as "American practice/' and I believe it is but the truth to state that these standards have in the main been established by the Carnegie Steel Company.* The policy of the Carnegie management for twenty'years was diametrically opposed to the policy in European works, and quite different from what is possible in most cases. Most corporations must distribute their earnings in the way of dividends, and the most successful management is the one that distributes most; but where there are few stockholders and when
* The system of casting upon trucks, without which the great products in a Bessemer plant are difficult to obtain, as well as other features of Bessemer construction, were inaugurated at the works of the Maryland Steel Company, at Baltimore.